The trauma (and cost) of clicking computer death

by Jeremy Miles

It has not been a good week. I won an award and £150 from the National Union of Journalists the other day. Under normal circumstances this would have seen my mood swing from fair to sunny. Unfortunately the barometer of fate deemed otherwise.

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That’s me on the right with my award and a cheque for £150 in my pocket. Not for long though…

First I was stricken with laryngitis – not good when a significant part of your working day is spent talking to people. All I could do was croak in a hoarse, rasping whisper which at best made me sound as though I was being strangled and at worst gave me the voice of a demented psycho killer. It was not good for business. Then, as I wallowed in my misery, dosing myself with a cocktail of honey and lemon, Ibuprofen and Strepsils, my computer – good as gold for the past three years – suddenly packed in. It didn’t just crash, it died. The hard-drive literally clattered to a halt with a series of pained clicking noises. My trusty iMac – sleek, proud and beautifully designed – appeared to have ended its life with a death rattle that sounded like a swarm of cockroaches trapped in a biscuit tin.

I stared glumly at the screen which, whatever I did, failed to respond with anything other than a steady, grey glow. The situation seemed hopeless. I hadn’t reckoned on the skills of Rejuvenate – an IT dream-team who are based around half-a-mile from my Dorset home. I’d often passed their shop and once popped in to buy a back-up disk but I’d never really given this cheery bunch of geeks a second thought, until last Thursday when they came to my rescue.

I took the computer and my inflamed larynx to their workshop and gasped and spluttered, stabbing a finger ineffectually towards the broken machine. My wife Hattie translated. They  soon ignored me and conversed with her, quickly confirming that though the hard-drive was indeed toast the iMac could quite easily be saved. A new one terabyte hard-drive and a rebuild would take two or three days but the end result would be almost good as new and crucially more than £1,000 cheaper than a new Mac. I nodded furiously.

The next few days were hell. Not only could I barely speak but all my work had to be performed on a shared laptop, augmented by an iPad and iPhone. Added to that was the growing sense of dread that countless stories and files would be lost for ever. Everything was backed up on an external hard-drive and I had been assured that the wonders of Time Machine would restore every last scrap of data to my rebuilt Mac.

Somehow though I just couldn’t believe that at the press of a button I would be miraculously reunited with my precious files.  I was convinced that years of carefully catalogued work not to mention music and photographs had vanished into cyberspace. I was already struggling to recall usernames and passwords that I’d barely used for the past three or four years. I found myself locked out of my bank account, unable to edit my website and refused permission to log into several quite important sites.

But miracles do happen. Rejuvenate lived up to their name. They returned my beautifully rebuilt Mac and, at the press of a button (well almost), Time Machine did its remarkable thing and restored everything exactly as it had been nano-seconds before the dreaded moment of clicking computer death.  Things could hardly better.  I even got my voice back.

Sadly every silver lining has its cloud and I realised that the £150 cheque I received last week had just been replaced with a bill for £169. Looked at from a Micawberish perspective that’s not a very good economic situation to be in at all.

Oh well! Difficult come, easy go!

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